Union: Only nurses can help with insulin

Only nurses should be allowed to help diabetic children inject insulin argues a lawsuit by the nurses’ union and the state teachers’ union. There’s only one nurse for every 2,200 students in California public schools. Currently, any school staffer can assist a diabetic student.

“My experience tells me (the students) really do better when you have a professional nurse working with them,” said Melinda Landau, a nurse and health manager for the San Jose Unified School District.

. . . Parents and a host of groups backing them — notably the American Diabetes Association — argue that school employees who volunteer to provide the shots can safely aid diabetic students, just as parents learn to care for their children at home.

“We all had to learn how to do it, and none of us are licensed medical professionals,” said Tamar Sofer-Geri, a Los Altos woman whose diabetic 12-year-old daughter, Tia, is now able to monitor her blood sugar and inject herself.

I’d bet Tia has been monitoring her blood sugar and injecting herself for years now.

In some schools, students need a doctor’s note to carry sunscreen, a dermatologist Ana Duarte tells Allure.    “The state of Washington is the only state that banned sunscreen in school, but lots have rules because it’s over-the-counter and there is a possible—but quite rare—risk of being allergic. There’s also the question of who will apply it—a nurse, a teacher?”

What about a child?

Mexican teachers strike to block reforms

Teachers in rural Mexico are striking to block education reforms pushed by President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Peña Nieto’s first major legislative victory after taking office in December was a constitutional amendment eliminating Mexico’s decades-old practice of buying and selling teaching jobs, and replacing it with a standardized national teaching test. That’s heresy to a radical splinter union of elementary and high school teachers in Guerrero, one of the country’s poorest and worst-educated states. The teachers claim the test is a plot to fire them en masse as a step toward privatizing education, although there is little evidence the government plans that.

Reform advocates say the dissidents simply fear losing control over the state education system and the income it provides, despite the need to reform a system that eats up more of the budget and produces worse results than virtually any other in the world’s largest economies.

Armed vigilante groups have blocked highways and shut down store entrances in support of the teachers.

The head of the teachers union, Elba Esther Gordillo, is in jail charged with embezzling $200 million.

Parents are “plan to start giving their own lessons in parks, public squares and even restaurants,” reports the Wall Street Journal.  However, the parents association is afraid of  “reprisals from striking teachers.”

Michigan teachers protest right-to-work bill

Michigan teachers walked out to protest a right-to-work law that will end automatic deductions to pay union dues. The bill passed the legislature and will be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder. Several districts that couldn’t find enough substitutes declared a “snow day.” An estimated 26,000 students missed class.

After Wisconsin’s teachers’ unions lost the right to collect dues from all teachers — and to negotiate for non-monetary issues — union membership fell by 30 percent.

Teacher Nancy Flanagan explains why she’s “stickin’ to the union.

Duncan: ‘Everybody won’ in Chicago teacher strike

“Everybody won” in the Chicago teacher’s strike, said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at the National Press Club Tuesday. Duncan was CEO of Chicago public schools from 2001 to 2009.

Do parents need a trigger — or choices?

Won’t Back Down — Hollywood’s parent (and teacher) trigger movie, premieres today. A documentary it’s not, but its emotional appeal is likely to move the debate. Think of Erin Brockovich for school reform.

Can parents do a better job of running their children’s schools? Neerav Kingsland, CEO of New Schools for New Orleans, is sympathetic but concerned, he writes on Title I-derland.

Specifically, I worry that Parent Trigger laws will be better at destroying bad schools than creating excellent schools. The crux of it is this: Parent Trigger laws combine two actions – (1) parent empowerment and (2) parent influence over management – when only the first action is necessary for real change. Moreover, involving parents in management may end up decreasing student achievement.

. . . The power to change doctors is an important power – the power to influence hospital management is less useful. I don’t know how to run a hospital, and I don’t wish to have the responsibility of guiding hospital management strategy bestowed upon me.

(In November, I’ll vote on the management of the local hospital district. I’ll have to figure out which way to go by then.)

New Orleans has lots of choices for parents, responds RiShawn Biddle on Dropout Nation, but it’s not typical:  Most parents have few or no affordable alternatives to the neighborhood school.

Biddle thinks parents will do a better job than school districts. I think parents who win a trigger vote (and the subsequent lawsuits) will hire a management team — probably from a charter network — and fire them if they don’t perform well.

Chicago teachers won’t end strike

Chicago public schools will not open tomorrow: Teachers’ union delegates refused to vote on a proposed contract settlement today, saying teachers need more time to discuss the offer.

So far, the public has supported the teachers, for the most part. That could change if the union seems to be dragging out the strike.

Chicago deal looks like union victory

The “framework” for a new teachers’ contract in Chicago looks like a victory for the teachers’ union, if early reports are accurate. The deal includes an average 16 percent pay hike over four years (that’s not new) with no change in how raises are calculated, reports CBS News.

The latest proposal includes retaining STEP wage increases — which are based on teacher experience — with larger increases for tenured teachers. Those increases will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but both sides differ on the exact cost.

It also calls for an annual 2 percent cost-of-living increase for the four years of the deal, retaining current contractual class size language, and establishing a joint committee to craft a new teacher evaluation plan.

Kicking teacher evaluation to a committee could mean another fight in the future — after the election.

The details haven’t been finalized, but it’s likely Chicago schools will be open on Monday.

Who decides who’s a ‘predator’ teacher?

“Predator teachers” don’t belong in the classroom, writes Arthur Goldstein in SchoolBook. But who decides who’s a predator?

Sensational headlines blare that teacher unions “go to bat” for sexual predators, he writes.

. . . I don’t accept that someone is a sexual predator simply because Michael Bloomberg, Dennis Walcott,  Campbell Brown or some Astroturf group like StudentsFirstNY says so.

Goldstein knows a “trumped up” case against a teacher who’s been dragged through the tabloids. He’s dubious about changing the law to let the chancellor fire teachers despite the rulings of independent arbitrators.

Not every teacher accused of impropriety is guilty.

Teachers’ unions go on the defensive

Teachers’ unions are on the defensive, writes New York Times columnist Frank Bruni. Hollywood’s upcoming Won’t Back Down – heroic mother teams with idealistic teacher to take over a low-performing school – shows how negatively teachers unions are viewed, he writes.

“When did Norma Rae get to be the bad guy?” asks a union leader (Holly Hunter) in the movie. I don’t know, but that’s indeed the state of play when it comes to teachers’ unions, and it’s a dangerous one.

The parents Bruni knows are draining their bank accounts to pay private school tuition, but most families can’t afford it. Ninety percent of children attend public schools.

The teachers’ unions are unhappy with President Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, writes Bruni. They don’t like the policies promoted by Race to the Top. At the local level, top Democrats are bucking the unions.

In Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and other cities, Democratic mayors have feuded bitterly with teachers’ unions and at times come to see them as enemies. And at a meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors in June, Democratic mayors joined Republican ones in a unanimous endorsement of so-called parent trigger legislation, about which unions have serious reservations. These laws, recently passed in only a few states but being considered in more, abet parent takeovers of underperforming schools, which may then be replaced with charter schools run by private entities.

Teachers’ unions have hurt their reputations by defending teachers’ tenure and seniority rights without regard to the welfare of their students, writes Bruni. “We were focused — as unions are — on fairness and not as much on quality,” American Federation of Teachers chief  Randi Weingarten conceded in a phone interview.

 The unions have also run afoul of the grim economic times. “In the private sector, nobody’s got any security about anything,” said Charles Taylor Kerchner, a professor of education at Claremont Graduate University. So the unions’ fights over pay raises and pensions, he said, made previously routine negotiations “look like pigs at the trough.”

When Hollywood steps in, it means the intellectual debate is over, writes Jay Greene.

. . .  the teacher unions are finally being treated as the special interest group they are rather than as credible players in the discussion over the merits of various education policies. When Campbell Brown takes on the unions the game is over.

The unions are still quite powerful and policy battles will continue to rage, Greene writes. But a big political and cultural shift has occurred.

Norma Rae is the bad guy.

Chicago goes to longer school days

“Many children in Chicago Public Schools will go from having the shortest school days in the nation to some of the longest this fall,” reports MSNBC. Will it boost achievement?

. . .  in Chicago, public school students have the shortest school day — 5 hours and 45 minutes — among the nation’s 50 largest districts, according the National Council on Teacher Quality. The national average is 6.7 hours in school. Under Chicago Mayor Rahm Emnauel’s plan, elementary schools will move to seven hours and most city high schools will extend their day to 7½ hours, although one day during the week would be shorter by 75 minutes.

. . . “Among 10 of the largest cities in the U.S., our students have 22 percent less instructional time than their peers, and 83 percent of our third-graders are not reading at their grade level,” Marielle Sainvilus, spokeswoman for the Chicago Public Schools, told msnbc.com. “We had to do something to ensure that our students had the time in class needed to succeed.”

The school board is negotiating with the teachers’ union over the longer school day, but already nearly 90 percent of teachers have authorized a strike. “Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year rescinded a four percent pay increase and pushed for a longer school day. CPS has since proposed a five-year contract which guarantees teachers a two percent raise in their first year and lengthens the school day by 20 percent.”

That’s a very chintzy offer. I don’t see a peaceful resolution.